White House seeks to end subsidies for electric cars and renewable energy

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said on Monday the Trump administration wants to end subsidies for electric cars and other items, including renewable energy sources.

Asked about plans after General Motors Co (GM.N) announced U.S. plant closings and layoffs last week, Kudlow pointed to the $2,500-to-$7,500 tax credit for consumers who buy plug-in electric vehicles, including those made by GM, under federal law.

“As a matter of our policy, we want to end all of those subsidies,” Kudlow said. “And by the way, other subsidies that were imposed during the Obama administration, we are ending, whether it’s for renewables and so forth.”

Asked about a timeline, he said: “It’s just all going to end in the near future. I don’t know whether it will end in 2020 or 2021.”

The tax credits are capped by Congress at 200,000 vehicles per manufacturer, after which the subsidy phases out. GM has said it expects to hit the threshold by the end of 2018, which means under the current law, its tax credit scheme would end in 2020. Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) said in July it had hit the threshold. Other automakers may not hit the cap for several years.

Experts say the White House cannot change the cap unilaterally. U.S. President Donald Trump last week threatened to eliminate subsidies for GM in retaliation for the company’s decision.

Kudlow made clear any changes in subsidies would not just affect GM. “I think legally you just can’t,” he said.

Democrats will take control of the U.S. House in January and are unlikely to agree to end subsidies for electric cars and many have been pushing for additional incentives.

Tesla and GM have lobbied Congress for months to lift the cap on electric vehicles or make other changes, but face an uphill battle make changes before the current Congress expires.

In October, Senator Dean Heller proposed lifting the current cap on electric vehicles eligible for tax credits but phase out the credit for the entire industry in 2022. Two other senators in September proposed lifting the per manufacturer credit and extending the benefit for 10 years.

Also in October, Senator John Barrasso a Republican who chairs the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, proposed legislation to end the EV tax credit entirely.

[Raw Story]

Trump threatens to cut federal incentives for GM’s electric car

President Trump on Tuesday threatened to end General Motors’s federal tax credit for electric vehicles in retaliation for the company’s planned layoffs.

Trump tweeted that he is “very disappointed” with the company’s plans to close up to five manufacturing plants — four of them in the United States, one in Canada — and lay off about 15 percent of its workforce.

“We are now looking at cutting all @GM subsidies, including … for electric cars,” he wrote.

GM’s share price fell on the New York Stock Exchange in the minutes after Trump’s tweet, reaching as low as 3.8 percent below Monday’s closing price.

In a statement on Tuesday afternoon, the automaker said it appreciates “the actions this administration has taken on behalf of industry to improve the overall competitiveness of U.S. manufacturing” and that “many of the U.S. workers impacted” by Monday’s layoff announcement “will have the opportunity to shift to other GM plants.”

“GM is committed to maintaining a strong manufacturing presence in the U.S., as evidenced by our more than $22 billion investments in U.S. operations since 2009. Yesterday’s announcements support our ability to invest for future growth and position the company for long-term success and maintain and grow American jobs,” the company said.

Trump has blasted GM and its CEO, Mary Barra, since the Monday morning layoff announcements and has pledged to take action to prevent the job losses.

It’s unclear what other subsidies might be targeted by Trump, whether he would focus only on GM or end the tax credit altogether. Ending the subsidy would require Congress to pass a new law.

The federal government provides a $7,500 tax break to U.S. consumers who buy electric vehicles. Two GM vehicles qualify for the incentive: the all-electric Chevrolet Bolt and the plug-in hybrid Chevrolet Volt.

Larry Kudlow, Trump’s top economic adviser, on Tuesday also mentioned potentially targeting the electric vehicle credit.

“We are going to be looking at certain subsidies regarding electric cars and others, whether they should apply or not. I can’t say anything final about that, but we’re looking into it,” Kudlow told reporters in a White House briefing before Trump’s tweet.

“Again, that reflects the president’s own disappointment regarding these actions,” he said of the plant closings.

At the same briefing, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was noncommittal on when Trump might make good on his threat.
“I don’t know that there’s a specific timeline,” she said.
“As he said, he’s looking into what those options might look like,” she added. “The president wants to see American companies build cars here in America, not build them overseas, and he is hopeful that GM will continue to do that here.”

As of the third quarter of 2018, GM was less than 4,000 vehicles away from hitting the point at which federal tax credits start to phase out. The phase-out starts when a manufacturer sells 200,000 electric cars.

GM and other automakers are lobbying Congress to lift the 200,000-vehicle limit. Bills in both the House and Senate have been introduced but neither chamber has passed one of the measures.

Support for the tax credit generally falls along party lines, with Democrats in strong support and Republicans opposed. Nonetheless, Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.), who lost his reelection fight earlier this month, is the lead sponsor on one bill to lift the cap on the credit.

[The Hill]

Trump, When Asked Why He Sided With Saudi Arabia Over CIA: ‘Because It’s America First!

President Donald Trump was asked by a reporter on Tuesday why he sided with Saudi Arabia over his own intelligence agencies regarding who is responsible for the murder or Jamal Khashoggi.

Trump issued a bizarre statement on Tuesday announcing the U.S. would stand by Saudi Arabia regardless of whether Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the murder of the Washington Post writer in Turkey, as the CIA has reportedly concluded.

“It’s a shame, but it is what it is,” Trump told reporters as he made his way from Washington D.C. to his Mar-a-Lago resort for Thanksgiving.

“Why are you siding with Saudi Arabia over your own intelligence community?” a reporter asked.

“Because it’s America First,” Trump replied. “It’s all about American First. We’re not going to give up hundreds of billions of dollars in orders, and let Russia and China have them.”

(The Washington Post called Trump’s claims about the jobs and revenue created by Saudi investment in the U.S. a “fantasy” in their report on his statement.)

“We are with Saudi Arabia, we’re staying with Saudi Arabia,” Trump added.

Trump’s statement drew criticism for its apparent defense of Saudi Arabia’s actions and questioning of its leader’s culpability in the gruesome murder of a dissident who resided in the United States.

“Our intelligence agencies continue to assess all information, but it could very well be that the Crown Prince had knowledge of this tragic event – maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!” Trump wrote in his statement. “That being said, we may never know all of the facts surrounding the murder of Mr. Jamal Khashoggi. In any case, our relationship is with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. They have been a great ally in our very important fight against Iran.”

[Mediaite]

After scathing op-ed, Trump defends leadership by taking credit for Obama’s economic policies

After the publication of a scathingly critical essay purportedly from an anonymous senior administration official, President Donald Trump used a series of morning tweets to defend his leadership, citing strong economic data and praise from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

“The Deep State and the Left, and their vehicle, the Fake News Media, are going Crazy – & they don’t know what to do,” Trump tweeted. “The Economy is booming like never before, Jobs are at Historic Highs, soon TWO Supreme Court Justices & maybe Declassification to find Additional Corruption. Wow!”

The New York Times published an op-ed Wednesday that it said was from a senior official who described the president as erratic and amoral and said staff worked to thwart “misguided” decisions they feared would be detrimental to the country.

In the hours after the Times posted the story Wednesday afternoon, an angry Trump criticized the newspaper for not identifying the author. He demanded that the Times out him or her and suggested that the person should be investigated.

In a third post, Trump returned to the economy, proclaiming “consumer confidence highest in 18 years, Atlanta Fed forecasts 4.7 GDP, manufacturing jobs highest in many years.”

[USA Today]

Trump celebrates as youth unemployment hits half-century low

President Trump on Friday celebrated summer youth unemployment reaching the lowest rate since 1966.

“Just announced, youth unemployment is at a 50 year low!” Trump tweeted Friday morning.

The Bureau of Labor statistics reported Thursday that the youth unemployment rate was 9.2 percent in July 2018. The number signified the lowest summer youth unemployment rate since 1966.

The youth labor force consists of 16 to 24-year-old who are seeking work. The youth workforce swells each summer as high school and college students seek summer jobs, and new college graduates pursue permanent employment.

[Washington Examiner]

Reality

But the labor-force participation rate stands at 60.6 percent, far below its peak of 77.5 percent in July 1989, the BLS added. This rate illustrates the share of 16 to 24 year olds who are working or looking and available for work.

For 16-to-19 year-olds in particular, participation is at a record low. Just 35 percent of that age group is looking for work or working—the lowest figure since record-keeping started in 1948.

Sanders cites inaccurate numbers to claim Trump has created more jobs for African-Americans than Obama

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Tuesday cited inaccurate data that she claimed showed President Trump has created hundreds of thousands of more jobs for African-American workers than former President Obama did in his entire term.

Sanders drastically deflated the number of jobs Obama created for African-Americans as part of a broader response to questions about whether Trump had ever used the “N-word.”

Asked if she could guarantee Americans will “never hear” Trump say the racial slur on a recording, Sanders said she “can’t guarantee anything” before highlighting economic gains made under Trump.

“This is a president who is fighting for all Americans, who is putting policies that help all Americans, particularly African-Americans,” Sanders said. “Just look at the economy alone.”

She claimed that the economy has added 700,000 new jobs for African-Americans in Trump’s first 18 months in office, which is accurate, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Sanders then said Obama only oversaw the creation of 195,000 jobs for African-Americans during his eight years in office.

The latter number is far from accurate. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the economy added roughly 3 million jobs for African-Americans during Obama’s time in office.

Sanders did not immediately respond to questions from The Hill about the inaccurate information, or whether she meant to cite a different timeframe.

Bloomberg first reported on Sanders’s exaggerated answer from the podium.

Tuesday’s press briefing was largely dominated by questions about Trump’s rhetoric toward African-Americans, and particularly toward former White House aide Omarosa Manigault Newman.

Manigault Newman’s new book, “Unhinged: An Insider’s Account of the Trump White House,” alleges Trump is a racist and a misogynist. She claims there are tapes of Trump using the “N-word” on the set of “The Apprentice.”

Trump has denied such tapes exist and tweeted Monday night that the racial slur has never been part of his vocabulary. He went on to attack Manigault Newman, who was once the highest ranking black official in his White House, as a “dog,” a “lowlife” and “wacky and deranged.”

[The Hill]

Media

Trump encourages boycott against Harley-Davidson

President Donald Trump said it’s “great” that consumers might boycott Harley-Davidson if it moves some motorcycle production overseas.

The President tweeted about the potential boycott on Sunday

“Many @harleydavidson owners plan to boycott the company if manufacturing moves overseas. Great!” Trump wrote. “Most other companies are coming in our direction, including Harley competitors. A really bad move! U.S. will soon have a level playing field, or better.”

Harley-Davidson did not respond to request for comment on Sunday.

Trump’s remark came after the President hosted “Bikers for Trump” supporters at his golf club in Bedminister, New Jersey, over the weekend.Dozens of bikers descended on the posh club house, where Trump shook hands, posed for selfies and delivered an enemy-bashing speech to a cheering crowd, according to a report from the Associated Press.

Tensions between the administration and Harley-Davidson have brewed for months.

It started when Trump imposed hefty tariffs on steel and aluminum imports earlier this year in an effort to bolster domestic manufacturing. The European Union responded by pledging to raise tariffs on a list of goods that are imported from the United States, including Harley motorcycles.

American demand for motorcycles has waned while foreign interest has grown. So, that wasn’t good news for the Wisconsin-based bike manufacturer.
Harley said it stands to lose as much as $100 million a year, and the company pledged to shift some of its production abroad so that it could avoid the added tariffs on motorcycles sold in the EU.

Trump accused Harley of using the European retaliatory tariffs as “an excuse” for moving manufacturing abroad. Trump, echoing a top union for Harley workers, claimed the company planned to shift some operations to Thailand before the tariffs were announced.

Harley acknowledged it already had been moving some production abroad, but said moving more production overseas was the “only sustainable option” in the face of a trade war.

The President also said last month his administration was “working with other Motor Cycle companies who want to move into the U.S.”

[CNN]

Trump keeps bragging about 7 new U.S. Steel plants. There’s just one problem.

During his speech Thursday night in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, President Trump touted seven new steel plants he claimed U.S. Steel is opening.

If true, Trump’s claim would be huge news, as according to PolitiFact, U.S. Steel only operates four steelmaking plants in the entire country at present. The development would represent a benefit of the steel and aluminum tariffs Trump imposed that launched a trade war and have sparked concerns about inflation.

“I’ll tell you what I’m really proud of now. About five months ago — it took a while to get all the statutory approvals — we’re putting our steel workers back to work at clips that nobody could believe,” Trump said on Thursday. “U.S. Steel is opening up seven plants.”

It wasn’t the first time Trump touted new steel plants. During a speech on Tuesday, Trump bizarrely said that “U.S. Steel just announced that they are building six new steel mills. And that number is soon going to be lifted, but I’m not allowed to say that, so I won’t.”

The number varies from speech to speech. On July 27, Trump claimed U.S. Steel was going to open seven plants. Twice in June, he hyped six new ones.

But there’s a major problem — Trump’s claim is a fabrication. U.S. Steel is not “opening up seven plants.” In fact, the company hasn’t publicly announced it is opening any new plants at all.

Following Trump’s speech in Pennsylvania, U.S. Steel provided CNN with a statement saying the openings of new plants “would be publicly announced if they happen.”

That accords with what the company told PolitiFact.

“All of our operational changes have been publicly announced and all information shared with the federal government has been properly disclosed and made available on our website,” a spokesman for the company said.

Trump is in the habit of making stuff up to make himself look good.

[Think Progress]

Media

No, U.S. Steel is not opening six new mills as Donald Trump said

President Donald Trump has boasted about big growth in the steel industry at campaign-style rallies this summer.

“U.S. Steel just announced that they are building six new steel mills,” Trump said July 31 in Tampa. “And that number is soon going to be lifted, but I’m not allowed to say that, so I won’t.”

Trump repeated the company would open six major facilities at a roundtable in Minnesota on June 20 and again at a lunch with members of Congress on June 26.

That was one mill down from when he said the company was going to open seven on July 27.

That would be huge news, given the company only has four steelmaking facilities in the United States. But there’s no evidence on their website that any new mills are on the horizon.

Meghan Cox, a spokeswoman for U.S. Steel, told us that Trump wasn’t privy to any exclusive information.

“All of our operational changes have been publicly announced and all information shared with the federal government has been properly disclosed and made available on our website,” Cox said.

(The White House did not respond to our request for comment.)

Cox pointed to several projects U.S. Steel announced this year. That includes plans to invest $275 million to $325 million in capital projects, announced in February; to construct a new steel-coating line to help PRO-TEC, a subsidiary, make cars in Leipsic, Ohio; and to restart two blast furnaces that will create 800 new jobs at an integrated steel-making plant in Granite City. The company idled those furnaces in 2015, laying off about 2,000 workers.

Mills are complex operations, so we asked William Reinsch, a trade expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, whether a single plant might be easily mistaken for multiple plants.

[Politifact]

Trump: I’ve accomplished more in my first 500 days than any other president

President Trump on Monday touted his first 500 days in the White House, saying “many believe” he has achieved more than any of his predecessors in that same time frame.

“This is my 500th. Day in Office and we have accomplished a lot – many believe more than any President in his first 500 days,” the president wrote on Twitter.

Trump pointed to the GOP tax cuts, “lower crime,” passing the “right to try” bill, his confirmed judicial appointments and his immigration policy as accomplishments.

“Massive Tax & Regulation Cuts, Military & Vets, Lower Crime & Illegal Immigration, Stronger Borders, Judgeships, Best Economy & Jobs EVER, and much more,” he added.

[The Hill]

Reality

Not really.

Trump made a series of claims about his first 500 days in office, celebrating his economic policies, touting his success in adding jobs, and claiming to have made communities safer.

‘America’s economy is stronger … thanks to President Trump’s pro-growth agenda’

CLAIM “Three million jobs have been created since Trump took office,” booms Trump’s news release. He made the same claim at a rally in April.

REALITY What Trump does not tell people is that the rate of job creation under him is actually slower than the last four years under Obama. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2.188m jobs were added in 2017. Obama added 2.3m in 2013, 2.99m in 2014, 2.71m in 2015, and 2.24m in 2016.

Trump claimed that the unemployment rate has dropped to 3.8%. On Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics did indeed report the unemployment rate for May was 3.8%.

But what Trump ignores is that the unemployment rate is declining in part because of large numbers of people leaving the workforce rather than getting jobs. The percentage of workers in jobs or looking for work dropped from 62.9% in March, to 62.8% in April to 62.7% in May. Those levels have not been seen since the 1970s.

CLAIM “American families received $3.2tn in gross tax cuts.”

REALITY Trump has been making this claim since 2017, when he signed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act into law. In fact, the bill delivers $1.5tn in tax cuts – and that number includes cuts that corporations will receive.

The disparity is because Trump does not include aspects of the bill which will actually increase taxes. Factcheck.org pointed out that the non-partisan joint committee on taxation estimates the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will result in $1.456tn less in taxes over the next 10 years.

Some of that comes from the corporate income tax rate being cut from 35% to 21%, while the tax rate for wealthy individuals has been cut from 39.6% to 37%. The tax cut for corporations is permanent; the tax cuts for individuals will expire in 2026.

The bill is projected to add $1.46tn to the nation’s debt over the next decade. And the Washington thinktank the Center for American progress predictsthat Trump will save $11m to $15m a year under the tax bill, while Jared Kushner will save between $5m and $12m per year.

CLAIM “President Trump has rolled back unnecessary job-killing regulations such as the Clean Power Plan.”

REALITY Trump hails the government’s October 2017 decision to scrap the Clean Power Plan, which was introduced by Obama and was designed to cut US carbon dioxide emissions by 32% by 2030.

The Environmental Protection Agency had previously estimated the plan would prevent 90,000 child asthma attacks and 3,600 premature deaths a year by 2030.

While Trump claims the Clean Power Plan has already been rolled back, as of May 2018 the EPA was yet to finalize its repeal, and 19 states are challengingthe government’s move to scrap the plan – giving hope that Trump and Pruitt could be thwarted, or at least delayed.

‘America is winning on the world stage’

CLAIM “The president has taken action to confront aggression by Iran and its proxies.”

REALITY Trump has withdrawn from the landmark international deal on Tehran’s nuclear programme. In doing so he drew condemnation from the leaders of the UK, Germany and France, who made clear that Iran was abiding by the terms of the agreement.

‘America’s government is more accountable’

CLAIM “President Trump has confirmed the most circuit court judges of any president in their first year.”

REALITY Unfortunately for those not aligned with the president’s political views, this is correct. Republicans have rushed through the appointment of 21 such judges, and Trump plans to add 20 more by the end of 2018.

Most of those appointments are white men, and almost one-third have anti-LGBT records. The majority of Trump’s appointments are under 50 – meaning they could influence decision-making in the US for decades to come.

‘America’s communities are safer and more secure’

CLAIM Immigration and Customs Enforcement – Ice – has “made 110,568 arrests of illegal aliens – a 42% increase for the same timeframe in 2016”.

REALITY There is no mention of the disruption this has had on communities across the country – and on the terrible toll Trump’s actions have had on families.

Between 6 and 19 May, 658 children were taken away from their parents at the border, after the Trump administration announced that parents detained while entering the US without documentation would be separated from their children and prosecuted.

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